Eddie Daniels’s Solo on “Air Mail Special”

One of the most appreciated clarinettists in the world performs one of Benny Goodman’s favourites. The track is in fact taken from the album “Benny Rides Again”  in collaboration with Gary Burton as a keen homage to Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.

This solo for advanced players and you’ll find below a brief analysis:

  • The key in which the composition is performed is different from the one you may find in some Real Books: it’s in “D” in spite of “C”.
  • Note how the use of the “glissato” is definitely almost absent (compared to swing clarinettist of the past) and replaced, in some cases, by the chromatic scale.
  • For most of its extension the solo stays within an octave and a half hardly going under the “B” on the third line. This is one of the main issues encountered on clarinet solos on up-tempos or in situations where the instrument is somehow “weakened” or out-powered the other players (e.g. in big bands). Therefore the chance to explore and value the dark sounds is limited forcing the player to a brighter and louder part of the clarinet which may turn up to be, in the long run, counterproductive.
  • The chord sequence of this track is a kind of “rhythm change” in the “A Section” where “D” is mainly meant as “D7”, and then the original chords are played on the “B Section”.
  • Daniels’ approach to the solo is mainly diatonic except for the “B section” of the first chorus where he uses chromatic passages and for bars 10-13 where the chords |D7  Ebmaj | G7 | Cmin7 Gmaj7 | D D7 | are superimposed by the melodist.  
  • Note how he begins and ends the solo using the pentatonic scale on the main key.
  • Note how he plays the “F” mixolydian scale at the end of the first eight bars which ends up on the flat 9th of the chord in bar n.10 (D7).
  • Note how he “sticks” by the diminished arpeggio in bars 17-20.
  • Note how he emphasizes the minor third (blue note) during the last eight bars of the first chorus.
  • Bars 33-36 may be meant as | D | Cmin7 | E7 A7|.
  • He emphasizes even more the Blues Scale in bars 46-49.
  • Again extremely stuck on the diminished arpeggio in bars 50-52.
  • Note how he emphasizes the major seventh on the dim7 chords in bars 53-58.

NB: The score is for “Bb” instruments.

Audio File
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3 thoughts on “Eddie Daniels’s Solo on “Air Mail Special””

  1. I always appreciate anyone who takes the time and effort to transcribe a jazz solo for the benefit of the rest of us, so please don’t take this the wrong way. But I feel like I should point this out to the transcriber as well as for anyone who tries to match this up while playing it with the recording. There are a significant number of errors in this transcription (most of it is appears to be correct however). For instance, in bars 5 and 6, starting on beat 3 of bar 5 the actual notes I’m hearing Eddie play on the provided audio recording are as follows: bar 5: E, D, B, A bar 6: E#, F#, D, B, A, G, F#, E. The written notes in this transcription are bar 5: E, D, A, B, bar 6: F#, A, E, D, B, A, F#, E. I’m sure there are other spots which are not correct as well, but I don’t have time to go over all of it to see, just know I’m only pointing this out in the hopes it will be helpful. Take care.

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